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Friday, March 25, 2016

Your Brain Does Better On Multiple Languages

The Extraordinary Benefits of Multilingualism

Chris Livaccari | March 24, 2016

The benefits of learning another language are well-researched and well-documented — but there’s a case that neither educators or language learners are aware of just how beneficial it is. Advocates of bilingualism tend to focus on utilitarian outcomes like strengthening national security, ensuring economic prosperity, getting a better job in the future, or even developing one’s ability to navigate the streets of a foreign capital. But even if you never leave the United States or need anything more than English to live your life and do your job, your education is not complete without the deep experience of learning another language.
Over a series of recent conversations with my fourth and fifth grade students in both the French and Chinese bilingual programs at International School of the Peninsula, we explored the relationship between language and culture. One of the students' main insights was that the process of becoming bilingual has helped them realize that nothing can be directly translated, and that all communication — even within a single language — involves interpretation and nuance. 

"More technical problems related to communication, translation and language proficiency itself are inevitable consequences of multilingualism." Source:

<more at; related links and articles: (Multilingualism at work. July 31, 2014) and (The faculty of language: what's special about it? Pinker, S., and Jackendoff, R. (2005). Cognition, 95 (2), 201-236. [Abstract: We examine the question of which aspects of language are uniquely human and uniquely linguistic in light of recent suggestions by Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch that the only such aspect is syntactic recursion, the rest of language being either specific to humans but not to language (e.g. words and concepts) or not specific to humans (e.g. speech perception). We find the hypothesis problematic. It ignores the many aspects of grammar that are not recursive, such as phonology, morphology, case, agreement, and many properties of words. It is inconsistent with the anatomy and neural control of the human vocal tract. And it is weakened by experiments suggesting that speech perception cannot be reduced to primate audition, that word learning cannot be reduced to fact learning, and that at least one gene involved in speech and language was evolutionarily selected in the human lineage but is not specific to recursion. The recursion-only claim, we suggest, is motivated by Chomsky’s recent approach to syntax, the Minimalist Program, which de-emphasizes the same aspects of language. The approach, however, is sufficiently problematic that it cannot be used to support claims about evolution. We contest related arguments that language is not an adaptation, namely that it is “perfect,” non-redundant, unusable in any partial form, and badly designed for communication. The hypothesis that language is a complex adaptation for communication which evolved piecemeal avoids all these problems.])>

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